Friday, October 23, 2015

The Only Thing I Wanted From Paris...

Friends, when Michelle, Liz, and I started getting into the final details for our Paris trip, I did some long hard thinking about what I wanted to bring back from the trip. Fabric, of course. Yarn would be a plus. Overall, though, I wanted a photo. I wanted a photo of the three of us sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower, knitting like it was no big deal.

I couldn't have planned it better myself.

Of course, there was so much that went into this photo! For instance, we all made the same shirt dress pattern for this special occasion: McCall's 6696. Michelle has made multiple AMAZING versions, and Liz conquered hers with the most stunning floral print,  but mine was the second version I had made, the first being a rather shoddy muslin in a poly feeling gingham:

I was disappointed by this pattern initially. The fabric choice didn't help, and having cut out the size 16 in the D cup was a disastrous choice as well. I ended up having to move the under bust darts towards the side seams 1.5" and taking out 2" from each side seam. It was crazy. Nothing lined up. The collar is completely smushed together to resemble a collar, but you can't tell unless you get up close. Putting this together upset me greatly, and I was ready to renege on the idea of all wearing the same pattern in Paris.

Two days before I was due to leave, I decided to give it another shot. I drank a pot of tea and said, "I can totally do this." I grabbed a teal linen blend from my stash and cut out the size 14 in a C cup, and the difference was noticeable. I only needed to take 1.5" out of the side seams, and move the under bust darts 1", but the collar and other pieces all retained their shapes and I wasn't redesigning them on the fly.

I also took out the back gathers - it was something I left in on the muslin, but did not like the slightly hunchback look I was getting as a result. What's great about all of us making the same pattern is sharing notes on the construction. As you can see above, not one of us kept the back gathers. Michelle eliminated hers altogether (I took her advice in eliminating mine), and Liz made hers into pleats.

With those adjustments in place, I cut this version out with fingers crossed, and I managed to finish it the day before I headed overseas. Thankfully, it worked out pretty well!

Is there a little bit of a strain across the bust? Oh yeah, totally. Should I have worn better (read:not push up) undergarments underneath? Definitely.

I paired this shirt dress with my Hetty cardigan, which is the most INCREDIBLE shade of yellow. I bought this divine Pingouin Tricotine at a yarn sale in a woman's garage. It was $1 a skein. I spent $21 dollars and got enough yarn for three sweaters, including this one. It's an aran weight cotton yarn, and it was fantastic to work with. I wished I had more to make the sleeves a bit longer, but I can definitely deal with it as is.

Back to the dress: I anticipate making more versions of this in the future, with and without sleeves, but I am definitely leaning more towards the pleated skirt than the slim skirt. I see myself in flannel versions this winter, as I'm severely lacking in a winter wardrobe after konmari-ing my closet.

(oh yeah - do you see those awesome plaid pants on Josh? I MADE THOSE. Future post coming.)

So now that we've chatted about sewing, let's talk about the trip!

For ten glorious days, I roamed the streets of Paris with the wonderful Liz and Michelle, and all of our significant others. We drank all the cider/beer/champagne/wine we could get our hands on, and almost bought out a cheese shop. Also, eclairs. Eclairs are wonderful.

We may have also picked up a Milka addiction. (I can't find it stateside.I'm in a panic.)

When we first proposed the idea of this trip with the idea of going fabric shopping in Paris, I could not have anticipated the sheer joy that I experienced with this group.

We laughed the whole time. It was amazing.

We played games in the evening after returning from our adventures around the city - mostly Spaceteam (GET THE APP, YOU GUYS) and Quiplash. We also played Exploding Kittens, but Felix and I got into a war over it, and he had to hand over copious amounts of Milka after killing me off five minutes into the game. (#notbitter)

It was a trip I will always remember, and I cannot wait to travel with this group again.

Thanks for reading, Friends, and thank you also for the kind comments you left on my previous post. I have missed all of you terribly!

Have a great weekend, all!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rouge et Roux

Friends, it's been over six months since my last post. I took a little break from blogging to address some personal things happening, but I'm over the hurdle and ready to rejoin the world. If you're still a follower of this humble little blog, thank you. You are fabulous and I adore your face.

While I was offline, I was still finding time to create. I find great comfort in working with my hands, and my knitting needles were constantly in motion. I've completed five sweaters since we've chatted last, so I'm very close to my goal of seven for the year. I haven't taken photos of most of these, but the most recent make, Rouge et Roux, worked perfectly with the Fall weather we had here this past weekend.

The name "Rouge et Roux" came from my French learning games that I drilled prior to our trip last month. "Rouge" is red, but I learned that "roux" is redhead. So this sweater is affectionately called "Red and Redhead." 

I bought this Cascade Eco Wool from my local yarn shop, Windy Knitty, before last Christmas. I really wanted a cherry red cardigan to wear for the holiday, but I ran out of time and motivation. Prior to vacation, I thought I would churn out one last project, and this sweater was it. The pattern is Shapely Boyfriend by Stefanie Japel. 

There is definitely a reason why there are 1100 versions of this sweater on Ravelry. It's super simple, easy to fit, and takes next to no time to make. I'm completely in love with it. I love how it looks with this McCall's 5929 blouse. I definitely want to pair this with more flannel blouses, as the combination is so fantastically snuggly. 

The buttons are one of my favorite parts of the sweater. Michelle and I bought an entire cache of buttons at a flea market in Paris, and there were enough on each card that we could easily split them in half. I think we each walked away with nine different kinds of buttons from our adventure that morning. I had these in mind for this sweater from the moment I saw them. 

If you're in the mood for a cozy wool sweater, I highly recommend this pattern. I'm currently contemplating if I need another one in my wardrobe prior to winter settling in.

Friends, I hope you've all been well, and I look forward to catching up with you soon!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

There Ain't No Cure for the Wintertime Blues...

...except to knit! Knit all the things! 

Friends, I've been knitting like a fiend the last few months, making pretties for all the people that I owed Christmas presents to. In between those gifts, I managed to eek out a sweater. 

Behold the Beekman Tavern Sweater, from the Rhinebeck Sweater book. This is my version, in the lovely Cascade 220 shade of Aporto (closest to actual color above). This yarn has the most divine bits of green thrown in here and there, so knitting it up was a dream. 

The best part of knitting this sweater, though, was definitely the company I knit it with:


While we all started out with the Beekman Tavern as our base pattern, all of our versions are wildly different. That is one of my favorite thing about knitting with Michelle and Liz - the variations at the end are always a wonderful discovery!

Liz's version is such a fabulous blue, and her modifications allowed her to have a sweater that fits her perfectly. She has mastered raglan arms, and the evidence of her hard work can easily be seen here. Also, that color totally flatters her rocking pink hair. She's like a gorgeous sea sprite in these photos.

Michelle's version is the perfect fisherman style sweater. Also, it's uber comfortable in the yarn she used. Her version is the truest to the original design, even with some modifications to the center panels. She rocks it with some fabulous shoes (that both Liz and I lusted over).

While these pictures were a ton of fun to take, this was the fastest photo shoot we have ever done. We were worried that the weather wouldn't be cold enough to take photos in wool sweaters, but we shouldn't have worried. 

This is Chicago (or actually Evanston in these photos), and it was cold and windy as we played around on the rocks. Our hands were FREEZING, but our torsos were quite snuggly.

(Many thanks to our photographers Mike and Felix, who were not so snuggly, but were real troopers!!)

I was especially glad that I threw thick leggings under my Beekman mini dress. Originally, I was just targeting tunic length, but Cascade 220 tends to grow a little bit for me, so this ended up more dress like after blocking. Do I mind? Not a bit. I only worry about it growing outwards, which may end up happening the more I wear it.

The decision to make a longer version of the sweater was made when I tried on the size 36 after knitting for five inches, only to find that the ribbing was so stretchy that the sweater went over my bottom without any issues at all. Rather than re-cast on for a smaller size, I threw caution to the wind and decided to make it long enough to cover my bootylicious bottom. 

I threw in some waist shaping, but I could have easily done more, as it's still pretty roomy in the waist. It gently skims my figure, which I like, and I wore it out belted last night, just to further emphasize the shape.

One of my favorite things about knitting is challenging myself with new techniques. This is my first cabled sweater, and only my second project with cables ever. I feel rather accomplished, considering the length and the amount of time I spent on it. I also love that I took a pattern and adapted it to suit me (with waist shaping and adding a few extra rows for the collar). My confidence in my knitting is increasing, and I love that.

While it feels like winter will never end, I think my time of making only blue items is coming to a close. After working on a Granville muslin for myself, two Negronis for the boyfriend, as well as this fabulous sweater, I'm ready for a new color. Pink, anyone? :)

One sweater down, only six more to go before I reach my goal of seven in 2015. Fingers (and knitting needles) crossed!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Dress Fit For Vegas

Friends, January has been a crazy month so far, and the highlight was definitely KITTY GRAND GETTING MARRIED. It was a big deal. And it was in Vegas. 

 Kitty's dress was very old Hollywood/Vegas, and she looked amazing. She also gave us bridesmaids the leeway to wear any style of black knee length cocktail dress we wanted. Well, of course I wanted to make a dress for the occasion!

After making several wearable muslins of different styles, I decided to go with Butterick 6129. It was classy, off the shoulder, and definitely would go with the jewelry that Kitty had picked out for us.

I chose to make it in a black cotton gabardine, and while it probably wasn't the best fabric for the pattern, I was SUPER comfortable the whole night. Crepe or taffeta (as the pattern calls for) would have worked best, especially in regards to the pleats running the full length of the skirt. I pleated at the waistline, and the eliminated the full skirt pleats as the fabric did not hold a crease well enough.

That said, I was surprised how well the pleats on the arm bands stayed in place. Because the fabric did not hold creases, I was worried the fabric would just fall or go all wonky during the day, but it wasn't an issue! The best part about the arms was the added bit of elastic casing in side. Those arm bands weren't going anywhere.

My only concern about the dress was I ended up cutting 4 inches of fabric out of the center back. My back darts are an inch away from the zipper, and at that point, should I have even bothered putting them in? The rest of the seams hit the mark beautifully, but the muslin (in cotton) and the final (in cotton gabardine), both had this issue. Thoughts, sewists?

Overall, the dress worked perfectly and wore well for many hours on end. Though it was comfortable, I wasn't sorry to take it off at the end of the night before hitting the bars (because strapless bras really are the worst). (Also, I totally wore this tee to the bar. It's my new favorite.)

A fabulous wedding, a gorgeous bride, and many hours of laughter that left me giggling for days. Here's to Kitty and Scooter, and their many years together!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's 2015!

Friends, Me Made 2014 is OVER. And I realize that I did not post photos for oh... 7 or 8 months really. Which is awkward. But I did it (even though I didn't post about it).  I began the challenge wearing Me Made only, with 5 pieces as exceptions (undergoodies not included in challenge). By the end, I was wearing about ten more pieces that were RTW (mostly tights and sweatpants - my apartment was VERY cold until Josh bought me a space heater that looks like a fireplace. It's very fancy.). 

For the most part, 2014 was very light in the sewing area. I spent most of my time knitting, as I found it to be easier to take with me as I traveled around town and the country. Some of the items I did sew never even got worn, as it turned colder so quickly that my summer items went into a drawer and were forgotten immediately. 

While I didn't do much sewing, I have some sewing projects that I am exceptionally proud of:

Catwoman! (Also for C2E2)

The By Hand London Anna dress, which has been on the shelf awhile as the hem needs to be re-examined.

The Amazing Technicolor Capelet, which looks awesome with jeans, btw, but does not hold up well against extreme cold.

And finally, my comic book Macaron for C2E2. C2E2 was the highlight of my sewing year.

I was super lucky to have some great visitors this year, including the wonderful Lisette. We lived together for almost two months and became quite close. I miss our late night chats over tea.

I was also lucky in that I got to travel to visit other friends, specifically in South Korea. I took a 14 hour direct flight and touched down in one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I posted quite a bit on Instagram, so I won't rehash it all here for you, but there is definitely a fabric shopping post coming, as well as some creations from those pieces I bought there.

Overall, from a creativity standpoint, knitting was really where my focus was in 2014. I wanted to knit everything. My queue on Ravelry, while accurate, is daunting. I feel confident that I can handle more projects this year and my realistic goal in 2015 is seven sweaters, but ideally, I want to knit all of them in queue (hahahahaha ridiculous, I know). 

Here are my five sweaters from 2014 (and you may recognize Liz and Michelle here!)

Vitamin D-idn't Turn Out So Bad (this was worn so much in 2014 that it needed to be washed and blocked again mid-year. Note: do not wash your Ultra Alpaca sweater with Oxy Clean. The color will be OK, but your heart will suffer damage)

The Channel Cardigan: I wore this sweater a lot more than I would have anticipated. It has been a wardrobe staple for me so far this Fall and Winter. The only issue is that it just keeps stretching out. Hopefully reblocking will fix that problem.

The Burdock Cardigan: This was part of the Cardis and Cambies Adventure with Liz and Michelle, and I am still quite in love with this cardigan. It adds a great splash of color into my wardrobe, and I wore it constantly when traveling in Korea. 

A Wonder Woman Sweater for Stephy: I didn't post about this, but it is listed in my projects on Ravely. I AM SO PROUD OF THIS. It fits my best friend great, and I managed to eek it out with enough yarn. It was close, you guys. It was really close. 

Finally, finished two days before the New Year, my $5 in Paris sweater (more photos on Ravelry): 

This sweater came about because I wanted stripes and I wanted to use up the extra yarn from my Burdock cardigan. I added some brown, and voila! The colors of my alma mater. The sleeves are super baggy since I didn't decrease at the end, but they fall over the tops of my hands perfectly, so they'll stay as is for now. 

Reflections on 2014:
  • yay Me Made 2014! I did it, I learned a lot, and I am glad to be reunited with my leggings.
  • The Me Made items that did not get worn are gone in 2015. I'm hosting a clothing swap on March 8 to give them away.
  • Some items didn't make it to 2015, specifically my comfy plaid pants. I wore them almost every cold day, and they disintegrated. 
  • Knitting is awesome. 
Goals for 2015:
  • Knit and sew each for 30 minutes a day. So far, I've been exceeding this goal, and projects are getting done. I'm looking forward to having new items in my wardrobe soon!
  • No buying yarn. I've bought all the yarn for all the sweaters I plan on making this year, and that's enough.
  • No more fabric, unless I am on vacation (I like fabric as a souvenir) or if it's for C2E2 (because it's going to be epic Doctor Who themed and I need supplies).
  • No buying sewing patterns. I spent way too much money on Hobbies last year, and I need that money for traveling this year. Knitting patterns can be bought if I already have the yarn for that project.
  • Seven sweaters. Let's make this happen.

Friends! Are you ready for 2015?! Let's do this. High fives all around!!